Falling into Place by Sheryn Munir is a tantalizing and slow burning, friends to lovers romance set in the bustling city of Delhi, India.
Sameen is a successful commissioning editor for a publishing house. After spending an agonizingly long day dealing with a particularly demanding client, she finds herself running late for her boyfriend’s 30th birthday party. Anxious to get home, she steps outside into a raging monsoon. Her frustration mounts as neither autorickshaws nor Ubers are available, and the only bus is completely full. Soaking wet, with a dying phone and limited options Sameen spots a cab with a somewhat familiar face sitting in the back. Desperate to make it to the party on time, she throws caution and inhibition to the wind and lunges into the occupied cab.
Tara is a highly driven and successful sports journalist. A closeted lesbian, she still lives with her mother, eschewing personal relationships lacking the will to fight the social and legal ramifications of being out in her culture. Resigned to a life of loneliness, she focuses all her energy into her career. Everything is going according to plan until one rainy evening when a stranger bursts into her cab pleading for a ride home.
Fate seems to have plans for the two women as they run into one another again at the grocery store. To atone for the interrupted cab ride, Sameen invites Tara out for coffee. The two women hit it off and their relationship develops into a wonderful friendship. But what do you do when you realize you feel something more than friendship? How do you cope when it dawns on you that the carefully built wall around your heart has been slowly dismantled brick by brick turning your well-constructed and safe world upside down?
All of the characters are extremely likeable in this book and the secondary characters add a wonderful richness and authenticity to the story without detracting from the focus on Sameen and Tara.
Sameen is a talkative, outgoing and charismatic woman. I couldn’t help but be drawn to her charm. She is also straight and in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend Rohan. Content with their current situation, she has no desire to rush into marriage resisting the pressure from family to do so. She is immediately shown to resist convention in this respect and I admire her spunk! What I love most is how Munir depicts Sameen’s blossoming feelings towards Tara. They are not immediate and are more evident to the reader than to Sameen herself. They are revealed in the way Sameen notices an attribute, or action and it is brilliantly authentic. When she finally realizes she feels more than friendship and wrestles with her emotions surrounding Tara and what it means for her future, it reminded me of my own struggles coming to terms with my sexuality.
Tara realizes that she is a lesbian at a young age. Believing there to be little hope for acceptance of this lifestyle in her society, she has run from a past relationship and constructed a solid wall around her heart. It is not hard to understand her reluctance to go against the social grain and her choice to simply avoid love altogether is understandable yet heartbreaking. Instead of fighting against the injustice, she decides it is easier to bury her emotions and wall off her heart. However, after meeting Sameen she must decide if simply existing is enough and it is painful to watch as she wrestles between desire and denial.
The buildup of their relationship progresses slowly and naturally. Tara is initially irritated by the boisterous Sameen, but the friendly and outgoing woman quickly inserts herself into Tara’s life. It is a wonderfully depicted progression from friendship to love. Their feelings are so well described that time almost stops as Munir has one woman notice some idiosyncrasy or feature of the other and then describes it in detail that can only come from someone in love even if they do not realize it at the time.
The Writing Style
The very first line in this book grabbed my attention and made me want to read more. “Forget cats and dogs-this was the stuff of elephants and hippos.” The phrase Munir uses to describe the enormity of the storm also eludes to the enormity of change that Sameen and Tara will soon face, and I love how it sets the tone for the story.
The story is written in the third person point of view and alternates between Sameen and Tara’s perspectives. Seeing each characters’ view as their relationship grew connected me on a deeper level with the women and allowed me to enjoy the progression of their relationship even more.
Munir masterfully pulls you into the narrative with her vivid descriptions of urban India. I love how this story is so rich in Indian culture. The descriptions of different places, the bustling streets and crowded cafes, adds an authenticity to the storyline and really establishes a feel of being there. And her descriptions of the food had me salivating!
I enjoy the fact that Munir doesn’t explain every Indian term she uses throughout the book as well. I have many Indian colleagues and friends, and this gave me the opportunity to engage them in discussions over what some of the words meant and what some of the delicacies described were. These discussions led to a potluck lunch that included many of the goodies discussed in the book which I enjoyed so much!
I can’t say enough about the way Munir builds the relationship between Sameen and Tara. As a romantic at heart, I adore the way she takes a mundane act or situation and describes it through the eyes of someone in love. Conversely, she masterfully shows the pain that can only come from love denied. This book will definitely give you all the feels!
Another detail I enjoyed about this book is how Munir provides a third option in the fight or flight scenario. Living in Canada, I am fortunate to not face many of the social and legal issues other members of the queer community in the world endure. This book is very eye opening in presenting the hardships still faced in other countries where homosexuality is illegal and the effect that has on people. By dedicating the book to those who quietly resist and push boundaries from within, Munir is empowering people in such places to grasp their happiness even if they don’t actively resist oppression.
This was a delectable slow burn so rich in feelings that the only flaw I can say is that I felt it ended a little too quickly after experiencing such a roller coaster ride of emotion.
This is a wonderful book that not only draws you into the culture of India, but also into the lives of two women trying to navigate their feelings towards one another. It is an endearing story about falling in love, the risks and the rewards, and it will touch you deeply!
Excerpt from Falling into Place by Sheryn Munir
Something had been different about today. Something Tara couldn’t quite define, a contentment she couldn’t ever recall having felt before. She reached out and brushed a strand of hair off Sameen’s forehead, her fingers trailing down her cheek for just a moment.
A fraction of a second later, she realized what she’d done.
Tara froze. In fact, everything froze, inside her and out. The next half a second was like an eternity, when time and everything, absolutely everything, made sense with devastating clarity.
She wanted much more than to just brush a strand of hair from Sameen’s face. She couldn’t run from it any more-her feelings for Sameen had long since strayed over the line of control that she had been calling friendship. Tara had thought that as long as she called Sameen that-a friend-she would be in control, but she hadn’t banked on meeting someone who would slowly take down her walls brick by brick without her being aware of it.
The feelings she had been certain she had a tight grip on had only turned out to be fine sand, gradually seeping between her fingers till she was left clutching at air.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783955339722
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Sheryn Munir Online
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